Former hockey stars including Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) officials lauded the team’s third-place finish at the eight-nation Champions Trophy, hoping that the achievement was a step forward towards revival of the lost glory.
The Greenshirts ended eight years of medal drought in the tournament when they overcame India 3-2 in the bronze medal play-off in Melbourne yesterday. Mohammad Rizwan Senior, Shafqat Rasool and Mohammad Ateeq were the goal scorers for Pakistan. The three-time champions won their last medal in 2004 when they won the bronze in Lahore.
Veteran Shakeel Abbasi, who was named man of the tournament, said that the win was as good as winning gold.
“For us, this is a gold medal because it’s been such a long time since we last won any,” said Abbasi. “Winning against India makes it even more special, so for me and my team, this is a gold medal.”
Meanwhile, the PHF’s consultant Tahir Zaman said a medal after a long time in the major tournament was great news for the sport in the country.
“It’s a step forward,” Zaman told The Express Tribune. “The team has shown that it has the ability to revive the lost glory in the game. The overall performance was satisfactory and the team showed improvement in all aspects.”
Greesnhirts warned of complacency
However, Zaman warned the team not to get complacent after the podium finish.
“Responsibilities have increased as the team will have to maintain the position and move forward. It is good progress but we shouldn’t forget that other teams did a lot of experiments by including their young players. Our target is the 2014 World Cup and we should not ride on this result.”
The PHF’s secretary, Asif Bajwa, termed the bronze medal a huge achievement.
“Pakistan were eight in the rankings and finishing third is a huge boost,” Bajwa told The Express Tribune. “This team mainly consists of junior players, which shows the team’s future is bright.”
‘Performance better than previous years’
Former Olympian, Shahnaz Sheikh was also content with the results.
“It was their best performance in recent years,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune. “The best thing was that we adopted our style of old times which is attacking hockey. The results are there for everyone to see and I hope more improvement will come.”
Meanwhile, Olympian Samiullah Khan felt Pakistan will have to work harder to become one of the top teams.
“More improvement is needed,” said Khan. “We’ll have to bring some more changes to become the best team. But it is a welcome feat and I hope the medal will prove to be the beginning of reviving the lost glory.”
Australia clinch 5th title in a row
Hosts Autralia lifted the Champions Trophy for the fifth time in succession after edging out the Netherlands 2-1 in the final.
Belgium finished fifth with a 5-4 victory against Germany in 5th-6th playoff while England ended at the bottom as New Zealand won the 7th-8th playoff 3-2 after a tough fight.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2012.
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